P&H Quest vs. VCP Aquanaut?

I hope to demo a Quest tomorrow…never sat in one yet. I have spent some time in numerous boats recently…and regarding the commercial boats I like the Aquanaut the most.

I would really appreciate your impressions/comparisons of these two boats in terms of performance and QC issues…

Many thanks…


Some comments & stats
P&H has about the best reputation for quality build of any of the British makers exporting to these shores. Valley boats also tend to be very well made.

Both boats have good reputations.

I haven’t paddled a Quest. The couple of opportunities I had I was told it was a high volume boat for which I (6’, 180lbs) was too small. The Quest’s decks are over 2" higher front and 1.5" higher rear than the Aquanaut.

These two models may appear pretty close on paper, but my sense is that they feel quite different in the water.

So, some stats comparing Aquanaut and Quest (courtesy of SK):

Overall length: Aquanaut = 17’7"; Quest = 17’7"

Overall width: Aquanaut = 21.5"; Quest = 22"

Waterline @200lbs load: Aquanaut = 15’ 2.2"; Quest = 14’ 8.9"

Waterline @250lbs load: Aquanaut = 15’ 3.9"; Quest = 14’ 11.4"

Beam at WL @200lbs: Aquanaut = 20.7"; Quest = 21.2"

Beam at WL @250lbs: Aquanaut = 20.9"; Quest = 21.4"

Drag @ 3 knots: Aquanaut = 2.02; Quest = 1.94

Drag @ 5 knots: Aquanaut = 7.42; Quest = 8.04

Too close statistically for the numbers cited here to be determining.

Have fun!

Many thanks…

I am really curious as to how the Quest paddles tomorrow…also as to what laying back will feel like compared to the Aquanaut. They also have a Sirius M…should be fun!

Really appreciate the stats!

Have a good weekend…


P & H
suggest you go into archives to topic “I’m disgusted with P & H” started 27 july 04 - - it gives a broad spectrum of views - i have no experience or views - john

Quest is bigger in the cockpit
I’ve paddled both. I’m 6’4, 220 lbs and the Quest still needs some padding out. I really wanted to like the Aquanaut more, but found the Quest to be much more comfortable and more fun to paddle. That said, I think if you fit the Aquanaut well you’ll find the Quest big.

I was lucky enough to be able to borrow a Quest for a 7 day trip this year and fell in love with the boat. I was most surprised at how responsive it was. For my size and weight it was very nimble. I spent hours in the factory seat with absolutely zero discomfort. Played around some cliffs/rocks and refracting waves and liked the way it handled.

Just picked up an Aquanaut

– Last Updated: Sep-11-04 8:19 PM EST –

I seemed to have narrowed my selection of boats down to a list similar to yours. I'm 6' and 220 and was looking for something with a little more stability and more user friendly rough water characteristics then some of my speedier previous boats. My final three choices were an NDK Explorer HV, Tempest 170 and the Aquanaut. After demoing them and many others multiple times I realised that I fit each of these three from realistically to ultra comfortably and content with each ones' paddling characteristics. Yes they all paddled well and yes each had some on the water paddling difference from the others, but none had glaring failures compared to the others. So how did I do the picking? Easy with a kid in college I let the dollar do the talking and an Aquanaut popped up as the winner. I would have easily been happy with the other two because when you get down to a certain tier of boats you will find there are several winners, but no perfect magic bullet. I also tried the Quest, loved its' seat, but found the volume large even for me. In that size boat the pecking order for me was 1.Quest/Argonaut, 2. Assateague and distant 3rd. Nigel Foster Shadow. Good luck.

Quest vs Aquanaut
My feeling on these two kayaks has been that the quest as noted in the speed stats from wilsoj is that the quest is very quick to accelerate, and is still quite fast overall. it is a big, b-i-g kayak. hard to believe I ever had a kayak that big. But the quest was awesome for trips it was an absolute gear sponge. If I was a rich man and had to choose a kayak for pure expedition carrying and rough water I would choose a p&h quest every time. However, the aquanaut is really very nice too. but my feeling was that the fit was better to the detriment of the speed and handling. the aquanaut felt sluggish to me in rough water, calm water, and in the straights… so that’s my take. It does have the larger vcp oval hatches, and a tighter cockpit fit, but I think a new valley aquanaut could be even better personally, if a quest did not foot the bill. Otherwise take a look at the impex currituck, or a foster legend.

Chatham 18
I don’t come close to fitting into a Chatam 16, but was quite surprised how easily I did slip into the 18. sat in one when I picked up my boat. I have never paddled it and it is narrower then what you have been looking at, but somebody out there might be able to give you info on it if you want the pot stirred a little more.

Chatham 18

– Last Updated: Sep-12-04 1:50 AM EST –

Cockpit of Chatham 18 is larger and the foredeck is notably higher than an Aquanaut.

Though its overall width is narrower than an Aquanaut, it really doesn't feel notably more tender. I'm guessing that the actual waterline beam is about the same as an Aquanaut. The Chatham 18 is chined like an Explorer and has much the same initial feel.

The Chatham 18 strikes me as a synthesis of various Brit designs. Its upswept prow is reminiscent of a Nordkapp. Its chine and bow is like an Explorer. Its stern is like a Quest.

It is certainly worth checking out. Maybe the most interesting North American designed and built sea kayak.

Chatham 17
Necky is coming out with a 17 ft version over the winter and here are the specs on that one for what ever it is worth. They came from Necky.

Specs for the C17

Length: 17’ 1.5”

Width: 21”

Cockpit: 31”X16”

Weight: poly 63 lbs.

AC Fiberglass 50 lbs

AC Carbon 46 lbs


– Last Updated: Sep-13-04 2:03 PM EST –

At 3 knots many sea kayaks register similar resistance (1.88-2.02 among the 18 on my chart). However at 5 knots the figures change dramatically. Of the 18 sea kayaks for which I've charted the Sea Kayaker figures, at 5 knots the Aquanaut ranks 5th while the Quest ranks 12th. On this chart, the top 4 boats for least resistance at 5 knots are: Artic Hawk, Sultan, Legend, Endeavor.

That being noted, I've only charted 18 boats, all Sea Kayaks and mostly Brit style and/or West Greenland inspired.

Great responses…thanks!
As it turns out…will check out the Quest and a Sirius next weekend as this past weekend turned about to be filled with family stuff.

Am very curious to see how these boats paddle. I am also rather curious to see how the Bahiya paddles…


There was at least one Chatham 17 at GOMSKS in July.

Its performance, as would be expected, seemed between that of a 16 and 18. My wife felt that the 17 felt closer to the Chatham 16 than to the 18.

Best advice is to paddle the Quest unloaded as well as loaded. It is OK as a day boat, but weathercocks with a tighter bow I suspect than the Aquanaut and know than the Explorer or Tempest. This goes away when the boat is loaded. I’m 6’ and 165 pounds, and had to extensively modify the cockpit to make it fit more like my Pintail. Having done so, I love it’s handling loaded in rough water. However, if you want a boat mostly for day trips or you plan to paddle Greenland, the Quest probably isn’t the boat for you.

Sirius, Quest
You’ll love the Sirius, but it’s the polar opposite of the Quest when it comes to gear.

My wife and I have a pair of P&H boats (we absolutely love them). Her Sirius M doesn’t really hold THAT much gear. Week long trips have been a packing challenge (we trip on Lake Superior often, where even in August, you need cold-weather gear).

The Quest will hold that gear, but I’d be VERY surprised if it paddled as nicely on day trips.

Have you thought of trying the Capella? I think P&H has a new, larger verison of it. That’s the boat I’ve got. Not nearly as high performance as the Sirius (higher rocker for starters) but it’s a great all around boat and a complete breeze to roll (almost rolls itself sometimes).

Hi Suydam…
I agree regarding the differences between the Quest and Sirius…totally different boats.

What is your experience like with the new Capella? My recall of my boat was it was rather high volume (compared to the Aquanaut for instance). Do you know how it has changed in terms of hull design and performance.

I plan to demo a bunch of boats…am looking for comfort and perfomance. I don’t have a need for much storage room as my paddling is 99% day trips. When I go to demo the Quest and Sirius M (which I am rather sure I will be too large for)…I will also demo the new Capella…great idea.